Dec. 19 - Australia says the country's clampdown on firearms has been highly effective in reducing gun-related deaths. Travis Brecher reports.
The scene of a deadly massacre in Port Arthur, Australia 16 years ago. Thirty-five people were killed and 21 were wounded when Martin Bryant opened fire on tourists and shop owners with a semi-automatic rifle in 1996. It was Australia's worst mass murder. Within two weeks of the killings, newly elected conservative Prime Minister John Howard persuaded all states and territories to adopt new gun laws in an effort to put a stop to similar violence. Under the National Firearms Agreement, the new legislation banned all pump action shotguns and semi-automatic rifles. Authorities also introduced a large-scale buy-back scheme in which up to 650,000 firearms were handed in during the following year. The government paid market value for each gun, including machine guns and submachine guns. According to MP Andrew Leigh, the plan worked. (SOUNDBITE) (English)FEDERAL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT ANDREW LEIGH, SAYING: "There's been no mass shootings since the Port Arthur massacre. Up until then we'd been seeing about one a year and that's not luck, that's the policy working." In the United States there have been a series of deadly mass shootings over the past few years, most recently a massacre in Connecticut that left 28 people dead. Over his first four years in office, U.S. President Barack Obama expanded gun rights, signing legislation that would allow people to carry weapons on Amtrak trains and in national parks.